Christmas 2018: Budgets for presents rise to record level – department stores profit the most

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  • Planned spending on Christmas gifts increases by six percent to CHF 310
  • On average CHF 126 of this is spent in department stores or shopping centres
  • The most popular gifts are food (including confectionery), books and e-books, and toys

ZURICH, 12 NOVEMBER 2018 – Mr and Mrs Schweizer would like to be generous this year at Christmas: The average budget for presents has risen from CHF 272 in the previous year to CHF 310, and has thus reached a new high. The previous peak of CHF 301 was in 2010. These are the results of a representative survey of 400 adult consumers in Switzerland, which was commissioned by the auditing and consultancy organisation EY.

While men would like to spend an average of CHF 328 (CHF 56 more than in the previous year), women’s keenness to give fell by CHF 18 to an average of CHF 291. Spending by families with children is also set to rise significantly – probably by 42 percent to CHF 400. It is once again the 36–45 age group which is planning the biggest budget for presents this year – an average of CHF 429 and thus 21 percent more than in 2017.

“The retail sector as a whole can look forward to lively business at Christmas, and the signs are pointing to growth thanks to the flourishing Swiss economy,” says Martin Gröli, Partner and Retail/Consumer Products Sector Leader at EY in Switzerland.

Generous French-speaking Swiss – thrifty Eastern Swiss

According to the survey carried out at the end of October, the respondents mostly wanted to give food items (including confectionery), followed by books or e-books, and toys. On average (and compared to men), women plan to spend more on clothing, computer hardware and software, books and e-books, while men want to invest more in jewellery, travel, and smartphones or tablets.

There are also significant differences among the Swiss regions: While consumers in the Lake Geneva region expect their average Christmas spending to amount to CHF 404, in north-western Switzerland the figure is CHF 338, in Zurich CHF 336, and in central Switzerland CHF 310. Ticino residents have an average budget of CHF 286, while the Eastern Swiss are the most frugal this year at CHF 262. In the Swiss Plateau region, the average amount for Christmas gifts is expected to be CHF 283.

Department stores and shopping centres benefit – online traders less so

64 percent of consumers in Switzerland prefer to buy their gifts from local retailers. For just eight percent of respondents, buying by mouse click is the first choice. The strongest increase compared to the previous year (from 13 percent to 28 percent) was for the proportion of Swiss citizens who make their purchases both ways, from bricks and mortar outlets and also online. “While retailers benefit from the fact that the products are directly available and no shipping costs are incurred, online retailers are appealing with their round-the-clock, convenient accessibility from home,” comments Martin Gröli.

Nevertheless, more than three out of five respondents stated that the pre-Christmas shopping experience in the town or shopping centre is very important to them. 32 percent of those surveyed (previous year: 22 percent) also perceive pre-Christmas events such as Christmas markets as an additional incentive to go on a stroll through the city.

Around half of consumers buy Christmas presents two to four weeks in advance. Over a quarter of them make some or all of their purchases abroad.


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EY’s organization is represented in Switzerland by Ernst & Young Ltd, Basel, with ten offices across Switzerland, and in Liechtenstein by Ernst & Young AG, Vaduz. In this publication, “EY” and “we” refer to Ernst & Young Ltd, Basel, a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.